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February 4, 2010; Star Tribune | In our continuing efforts to monitor the troubled condition of state budgets, we note the announcement of the beginning of the 2010 session of the Minnesota legislature. The year starts with a $1.2 billion deficit, a Republican governor pledged against tax increases, and an opposing legislature disinclined to make program cuts. Larger budget deficits loom in the future which the governor says only be met with spending cuts while the DFL-controlled legislature says there has to be at least “some” tax increase. At the start of the session, it appears to be a chess match between the Republicans and the DFLers (Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party), with feints and gambits to test the reactions of the other side—and of the public.  Complicating things will be electoral politics, with the governor eyeing a White House bid on the Republican slate and members of the state legislature toying with opportunities to succeed him. In short order, however, the gamesmanship will have to end and political leaders will have to come to some hard decisions. Knowing Minnesota, the state’s nonprofit association will be a vocal advocate in the dust-up.—Rick Cohen